Early in the new year, my pup started to limp. Limping is not that unusual for him— he has a bad back (left) leg (before I got him, he had an injury I know nothing about possibly related to malnourishment I know nothing about, which required surgery. The surgery is very common, called a femoral head ostectomy [FHO], in which they cut the knobby parts of the femur (big thigh bone) off, and cartilage fills in the hip joint, creating a false, arthritis-proof joint. It’s often done in cases of hip dysplasia, but I was assured by the rescue that this was injury/malnourishment-related, not dysplasia-related. I was also assured that he needed no special treatment except to be vigilant that he didn’t become overweight— that his bad leg would always be shorter than the others, but that he would otherwise be like any other pup), but this time, he was limping on his front right paw. (Always a silver lining with me: he almost never limps on his back leg anymore!) Sometimes, he overdoes it at doggie day care, so I assumed that was what it was. Except he’s usually recovered from that within a couple of days. When he was still limping a week later, I brought him to the vet. She did x-rays, not only of the leg that he was limping on, but overall. She said she couldn’t find a skeletal reason for it, and recommended that I rest him for two months (while somehow building up his bad back leg), give him pain meds, and we’d see.
We’re a month into the rest period, and he’s still pretty gimpy and muted, for an otherwise highly social and energetic puppy who turns one this week (on the day I decided, without much objective proof, would be his birthday.) I’ve got him in dog training, and the trainer talks to me almost exclusively about how badly he needs to be seen by a physical therapist. I have an appointment in 11 days (the best I could do), but it’s hard to watch him struggle. He’s not much like his puppy self, at the moment— we can’t do doggie day care because when I try that, he can barely walk to the car afterwards. I can’t take him to the dog park because that’s not resting. We can’t do much in the way of walking, because she felt that I was walking him too far. I lay on the floor with him and play tug and rub his sore muscles and tell him what a wonderful pup he is, but it breaks my heart. To say nothing of how it breaks the bank. But again with the upside— he absolutely has to use that back leg, for balance and stability, so his muscle tone is improving there quite a bit.
So I may start writing about this, too. I’m trying all kinds of things—switching him to a grain-free food because I heard it helps with inflammation (which could totally be urban legend— at this point, I need even the illusion that I’m doing something to help this sweet boy). Thinking about ways to play that are not up-and-about-style games. Physical therapy may open up brand new (and likely expensive) adventures like underwater treadmills and cold lasers. It has me thinking that maybe his future includes being a therapy dog, once we deal with getting him better. Maybe, getting to the bottom of this makes sense to document. So look for that.